Legendary Queen guitarist Brian May has condemned dolphin hunting in Japan, saying it should be consigned to history in the same way slavery and witch-burning has been.
The animal rights campaigner, in Tokyo to perform sell-out concerts for the rockers, said: ‘Every species, and every individual of every species, is worthy of respect.’
And he continued: ‘This is not about countries. It’s about a section of humanity that doesn’t yet understand that animals have feelings too.’
He made the comment weeks after the start of an annual dolphin hunt in the Japanese town of Taiji, which lasts for six months.
The hunt, documented in Oscar-winning film The Cove, has attracted widespread criticism, with celebrities including Sting and Daryl Hannah rallying against it.
This year, campaign group The Dolphin Project claims, the Japanese government has set a kill quota of 1,820 dolphins of various species.
Taylor McKeown, a silver medalist swimmer in the Rio Olympics, who has long been fascinated with dolphins, is now in Taiji to monitor the hunts.
Campaigners fear more than 1,800 dolphins will be killed during the controversial six month hunt, which started this month
Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer for the Flipper TV series, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill, and stars in The Cove, which depicts a pod of dolphins being herded into an inlet and getting bludgeoned to death, as blood turns the water red.
The hunters in Taiji and their supporters defend the custom as tradition, although eating dolphins is extremely rare in Japan. The Tokyo government also defends whaling as research.
May, who founded the Save Me Trust in 2009 to lobby governments on wildlife policy, said he opposes cruelty against all animals, including foxhunting and bullfighting.